Structured Settlement vs Lump Sum Payouts For Personal Injury Claims

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What Is the Difference Between Lump Sum & Structured Settlements?

When you are involved in a personal injury claim and are going to receive compensation for your injuries, you will likely have the option of receiving a lump sum payout or a structured settlement. But what is the difference between the two? Lump sum payouts are where you receive the full amount owed to you in one large payment. Structured settlements is a guaranteed payment of certain amounts over a long period of time. Both types of payouts have their advantages and disadvantages based on your current financial needs.
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In some cases you can even negotiate a hybrid settlement which combines a lump sum and structured settlement together. No matter what option you choose, it will be either the personal responsibility of the negligent party to pay these amounts or the insurance company’s duty. It goes without saying though, that an experienced personal injury lawyer is always a good person to have on your side fighting to make sure you get the maximum compensation possible when negotiating your personal injury settlement. Let’s take a deeper dive into how these work and what the pros and cons are of each type of payout.

Lump-Sum Meaning

A lump sum settlement means the compensation you receive for your injuries will be paid in one large payment for the full amount negotiated. So for instance if you are entitled to $500,000 in compensation, you will receive the entire $500,000 at once. This can have advantages and disadvantages based on many different factors.
The most common types of claims where a lump sum is chosen is where there are no long term injuries that require ongoing medical costs or payouts to families who lost income from the injuries which is common in cases with lifelong injuries or wrongful death. So in these cases, a lump sum would pay off the current bills they have accrued from the injury as well as any other damages that were deemed necessary in the settlement and then the financial burden of the personal injury ceases. Here are some of the main things to consider before accepting a lump sum settlement:

Advantages

Pay Off Everything – For injury cases where you have a lot of debt or bills due right away that were a result of your injuries, a lump sum payout can help you pay off all of those debts immediately so you can be free and clear of those debts and stop worrying about them.
Pay Off Other Bills – If your settlement is larger than the payoff for your injury and medical bills, you are free to use the settlement funds to pay off any other debt you may currently have such as an auto loan or a mortgage. This can help you save money on interest as well as decrease your monthly bills which gives you more opportunity to invest or start your own business if that’s what interests you. You may also come upon unexpected bills such as home repairs or other legal issues that need to be covered and having this extra lump sum funding may help you cover those costs when they arise.
Invest It – The last advantage is that you can invest the extra part of your settlement and turn it into more in the long run. This can be from starting a business, getting into the stock markets or anything else you may want to do to establish a second source of income or retirement funds. It is important to note that your original settlement is 100% tax free according to the law, so you don’t have to worry about taxes; however you will be required to pay tax on any extra profits you make from investing that settlement money.

Disadvantages

Unexpected Expenses – If you go out and spend all of the settlement money quickly and then find out you need extra medical care from the accident, then you won’t have any spare funds from the settlement to pay for these and will be forced to cover those costs out of your own pocket. We all know how expensive medical bills can get, so this is something to be fully aware of when deciding how to spend your compensation package.
Poor Outcomes From Investments – Not every investment will do well and this can end up diminishing your settlement payout if it happens to you. Sometimes markets go down or that business you started might not become successful and now those extra funds you had are gone or severely diluted. There won’t be another settlement check coming in the mail, so it is extremely important to make very wise and safe bets with that money if you do decide to invest it in something.

Structured Settlement Meaning

Structured settlement payments are where your compensation package is distributed to you over a specific period of time and at a certain interval. This typically means monthly, quarterly or yearly payments of a certain amount over a set period of time, such as 10 years. Every injury settlement is different and will come with varying terms, but typically structured settlements are used when the injured party is going to have ongoing medical expenses or has lost income due to the injuries.
That income loss or ongoing medical expenses require funds to be paid on a consistent basis and due to that, structured settlements are a much easier way for the injured to ensure they have the money required at the time those expenses come up. Monthly payments are one of the most common options people choose as it is the easiest to manage financially. Here are some of the main advantages and disadvantages of structured settlements:

Advantages

Regular Income – Having a regular payment come in can relieve a lot of stress, especially if you have ongoing medical payments to cover. Knowing you have a check coming in to cover costs from your injuries helps you plan your spending accordingly and ensure no bills go unpaid that are related to your accident. In the event you are able to pay off those debts early or treatment ceases before expected, then you now have an extra source of regular income to do with as you please.
Easier To Budget – Let’s face it, not all of us are good at budgeting our money, especially when we have a large amount of free capital to spend. When you get a structured settlement, those budgeting worries are a lot easier to handle. Set aside the amount required to cover your expected costs and spend the rest on whatever you’d like. We do however recommend setting any extra funds aside for unexpected costs as you never know when those can come in.
Protection From Bad Investments – If you go out and make a bad investment in the process of trying to increase your portfolio using settlement funds, you may have blown the first check, but there will still be more to come in the future so you have a little more financial protection in that sense. Just make sure you don’t make the same mistake with every settlement check that comes in down the line and always make sure your injury expenses are fully covered before making any investments.

Disadvantages

Can’t Cover Unexpected Bills – If any unexpected bills come up, you won’t be able to ask for more this month from your settlement to cover those costs. These settlements are legally binding documents that will not be changed due to your urgent need for more money. This leaves you at a slight disadvantage since a lump sum would have helped get you out of that type of situation if it arises.
No Access To The Rest Of Funds – Sometimes you will wish you had access to the full amount like if you wanted to buy a house, pay off other major debts, invest your extra funds or even have some unexpected medical bills come up due to your injuries. With a structured settlement, those funds will only be disbursed as agreed upon in the settlement so you lose access to the rest of the funds until the date they are sent out as per your contract.

Limited Investment Availability – You may want to invest the entire amount of your settlement so you can turn the injury into a much better outcome for yourself, but with multiple small payments, that ability will be severely limited. This isn’t always a bad thing though as many people make bad investments and end up losing the money instead of growing it.

Hybrid Settlements

In some cases, there may be a settlement that combines a lump sum with periodic payments, known a s hybrid settlement structure. This is usually when the person being compensated has large sums of bills due right away because of the time that it takes to get the personal injury settlement.
Those bills need to be paid off with a lump sum payment and will also have recurring bills due for ongoing medical treatment or lost income. The lump sum covers the bills due right away and the structured payments cover any ongoing costs so that the settlement helps them budget everything correctly and still be made whole in the end, without worrying about accruing interest on the bills that are due now. If this is how your case looks, be sure to discuss this option with your injury attorney.

Tax Liabilities

Generally, the government does not charge tax on any settlement funds you receive because it is not considered income. However, it is important to note that this exemption does not continue over to profits made using the extra funds from your settlement, and does not apply to all settlements depending upon what the controversy was about. So let’s say you go out and put your settlement funds into the stock market and cash out on a big rally with a 50% profit. The profit made on those gains is still taxed as normal capital gains so make sure you keep that in mind.

Talk To Our Injury Attorneys For Guidance

If you are wondering which type of settlement plan is best for your unique situation, give us a call and our injury attorneys would be happy to consult with you and help figure out what type of settlement is right for you. At Rector Stuzynski LLC, we work day in and day out to help our clients get their life back to how it was before the accident as fast as possible. Every case we take on means a lot to us and every case is treated as the most important one because to you it is the most important case and we want our clients to feel that we helped them the best that we could. For a no obligation consultation of your case with the best personal injury attorneys in Colorado, call us today at (719) 578-1106.

Areas We Serve

We serve clients charged with crimes or injured anywhere throughout the state of Colorado, but we focus on residents of these areas: Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fountain, Briargate, Monument, Black Forest, Pueblo, Canon City, Larkspur, Security-Widefield, Peyton, Castle Rock, Teller County, El Paso County, Elbert County, Park County, Douglas County and beyond.